DFC | McMillan’s early goal has Dundalk Tallaght-fornia dreaming yet again!

EA Sports Cup Final 2017 | Shamrock Rovers 0–3 Dundalk FC

Tallaght Stadium…
Dundalk wearing black…
In the rain…
A David McMillan header….
A moment of magic from McEleney….
Another glorious night!

Goals from David McMillan, Patrick McEleney sand Thomas Stewart secured the Lilywhites the EA Sports Cup against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

This was Dundalk’s sixth cup final in the past three years and Stephen Kenny’s side cruised to a win that takes the Dubliner’s haul of trophies to nine since he took the reins at Oriel Park ahead of the 2013 season.

McMillan gave Dundalk a deserved lead at the break, the 28-year-old bagging his seventh goal in the past six games, with another stunning header in South County Dublin.

Rovers never really raised a gallop and their hopes of coming back were hammered when Aaron Bolger was sent-off in the 65th minute for a second bookable offence.

Patrick McEleney put the icing on the cake when he arrowed a sublime finish inside the far post in the 81st minute to send the large traveling support crazy and there was still time for substitute Tommy Stewart to add a third, the former Rovers man sliding home a cool finish in injury time with his first touch.

There were a couple of surprises when the teams were announced with Kenny staying loyal to Gabriel Sava, who started every previous round.

The Italian was making his fourth cup final appearance in the competition, hoping to add to his winner’s medals with Drogheda United in 2012 and Dundalk two years later.

Two others hoping to add to their silverware collection were Sean Hoare and Jamie McGrath, winners of the competition with St Patrick’s Athletic for the past two seasons, the latter scoring in last season’s final against Limerick.

Shane Grimes, whose career looked dead and buried 12 months ago, started at left-back with Niclas Vemmelund partnering Hoare at the heart of the back four.

For Rovers, Michael O’Connor started against his hometown club with Ronan Finn deployed in the middle of the park. Centre-back, Lee Grace, like Dylan Connolly with Dundalk, missed out as he was cup-tied.

As the game started with Dundalk wearing all black, the rain began to fall, evoking memories of that glorious night last year when the Lilywhites put BATE Borisov to the sword in the Champions League Qualifier.

The only thing missing was a David McMillan header — and it duly arrived after just five minutes, the striker heading home his 20th goal of the season to get the Lilywhites off to a dream start.

Michael Duffy’s corner from the right fell invitingly for McMillan and he buried a header past Simon Madden on the line, via the underside of the bar. What a start!!

Rovers almost drew level three minutes later with a well-worked set-piece. Brandon Miele pulled his corner back from the left for Finn to meet but he could only hit it into the ground and it bounced over the top.

There were no signs of the game settling down with both sides content to go at each other. Dundalk were next to throw a punch with Grimes linking up brilliantly with Duffy on the left to get inside and smack a right-footed effort at Chencinski.

The champions continued to look a real threat going forward and they had a big chance for a second in the 18th minute.

McMillan was the supplier this time, picking out Benson at the near post but Chencinski did enough to smother his backheel behind for a corner.

Rovers started to get a grip on things in the middle but they were restricted to efforts from distance with the impressive Trevor Clarke firing over the top.

Dundalk carried more penetration, however, and Duffy skipped past a hesitant Chencinski in the 25th minute but his lofted effort was blocked before it could get to the goal.

Brandon Miele had a good chance to test Sava just past the half-hour mark but he placed a free over the top from 20 yards.

The Hoops almost fared a lot better five minutes later. Miele’s corner from the left was met by Dave Webster at the near post but his header came back off the bottom of the upright.

It looked like Bradley’s side had wrestled control of things but Dundalk responded with two clear-cut openings of their own.

McEleney picked out McMillan’s dart to the near post in the 38th minute but the hitman stabbed his effort agonisingly wide into the side netting.

A better opening came Dundalk’s way two minutes later when Duffy jinked his way inside Madden but he fired straight at the goalkeeper. Either side of Chencinski and it was 2–0.

An entertaining half came to a conclusion with another chance in the 42nd minute, Dave McAllister’s spectacular overhead kick flying wide of Sava’s right-hand post.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half matched the drab weather but the game sparked into life in the 64th minute.

Rovers midfielder Aaron Bolger, booked three minutes after the restart, was dismissed for a late tackle on Niclas Vemmelund.

Bradley and his coaching staff complained but the midfielder gave referee Derek Tomney an easy decision by making a ridiculous lunge.

Dundalk, who looked in control, set about putting it to bed and Duffy flashed a sizzling effort over the crossbar two minutes later.

McMillan went close to tying the game up with 16 minutes to go. Racing onto a Benson flick, his effort was bound for the bottom corner only for Checinski to touch it wide.

The silverware was secured in the 81st minute when McEleney guided a sensational effort inside Chencinski’s right-hand post and Stewart put the cap on it in the dying seconds.

The trophies just keep coming…….

DUNDALK FC: Gabriel Sava; Sean Gannon, Sean Hoare, Niclas Vemmelund, Shane Grimes; Chris Shields, Robbie Benson; Jamie McGrath (Steven Kinsella 88), Patrick McEleney (Stephen O’Donnell 90), Michael Duffy; David McMillan (Tommy Stewart 90). Subs not used: Gary Rogers (GK), Brian Gartland, Dane Massey, Conor Clifford, Thomas Stewart.

SHAMROCK ROVERS: Tomer Chencinski; Simon Madden, Roberto Lopes, Dave Webster, Trevor Clarke; Ryan Connolly (Cameron King 56), Ronan Finn, Dave McAllister (James Doona 85); Aaron Bolger, Michael O’Connor (Gary Shaw 70), Brandon Miele. Subs not used: Kevin Horgan (GK), Dean Carpenter, Luke Byrne, Sam Bone.

REFEREE: Derek Tomney. ATTENDANCE: 4,120.

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